Nat Illumine is an established writer and former Chief Editor of the infamous Undercover Magazine. She has interviewed some of the very best in the game and flown the flag in support of British talent for many years. She is very much woven into the fabric of the British music scene as a resident DJ on Itch FM, combined with her popular monthly warm up residency, entitled “Size Doesn’t Matter” at Ginglik in Shepherds Bush. I sat down with Nat to find out what she’s been up to.
Kwaku: Apart from Hip Hop, where do you get your musical influences?
Kwaku: Is this something you always wanted to do or this something that grew on you?
Nat: Actually deejaying? I never wanted to do it (Laugh). You see I grew up with deejays, I have a sound system background and my best friend, is a deejay, who I had a sound system with, so I had access to whatever records I wanted him to play to me and I would be with all my girls on the dance floor doing what we do best which was having a dance and a good time! So there was no need for me to be a DJ, because I was surrounded by deejays. Me deejaying really kicked off at carnival. It was with Ed [Intawarrior] and Max [Macanudo] and we were on our sound system at Notting Hill carnival. I was standing there handing them reggae tunes to play and suddenly they disappeared!!! I’ve got all these elders looking at me saying ‘yeah, man the reggae is wicked!! (Laugh) and I’m like ‘fuck!!! All right, I need to put on a record. I was blending the records and the elders were like ‘yeah the selection is wicked man’ (Laugh). But all in all, it was a great night, everyone enjoyed themselves, and it was from this point I decided to take it further.
I then started getting into 7 inches big time, which then progressed to a resident spot at Size Doesn’t Matter that takes place every third Friday of the month at Ginglik in Shepherds Bush. It’s called Size Doesn’t Matter because it’s 7 inches only, and it’s hosted by myself, Mr Shiver [Unsung Heroes], Simon Kurrage, DJ Thor and Michael Mastomic and I’ve know them for like 10 years, so it’s loads of fun. I’m not really doing this for money, it’s just for the love of tunes.
Kwaku: Name three important figures that you feel have made changes to the world and inspired you?
Nat: Oh WOW! That’s a big one, well straight off the bat, I’ve got to say Frederick Douglass, I mean I have never read a book that’s so incredible as “My Bond and my Freedom”, you know I don’t really need to go into the history of the man, I mean everyone really should know and if you don’t know get to know.
It’s just the fact that in the 1800s in America white people deemed black people unable to read or unable to handle education and basically unable to comprehend on the same level, which is just ridiculous – the whole fucking concept, and then for him to just write a book that was pretty much better than anything any of them could write themselves, not to mention run a newspaper for seven years. For me, if anyone changed the world we live in, he did. I really read up on the civil war, I find it an interesting part of American history.
Musically, I guess Sam Cooke, I think he created soul music and I think without soul music we wouldn’t have any of our music, and it’s so sad he died before his time.
As for a third person who changed the world…. I might have to come back to you on that one.
Oh – Guru, and Common. They changed my world with certain lyrics at times in my young life when I really needed them!
Kwaku: America seems to be a second home for you at the moment. What are the musical and cultural differences you see between the UK and America?
Nat: I feel that the UK is a lot more innovative at the moment and the music seems a lot more suitable for the lifestyles that we are living. America is very arrogant, I mean artists in America don’t really consider just who might be listening or who they could be affecting. But, in terms of their worldview, they generally don’t seem interested as to what takes place outside of America, which is a shame. But with that said, that is a big generalisation and with respect to most underground American artists that make music, they are very open-minded. Which is why the music is the way it is, hence it’s very difficult for Americans to buy into British Hip Hop. Except perhaps with artists like Dizzie Rascal, who has something different to offer America. He does make Grime, but that to me is Hip Hop, just a UK variation of it. He makes noise out there, but in terms of the UK making a serious impact it’s never going to happen. To put it bluntly: England’s really small and America’s massive and that’s just the way it is.
Kwaku: What are your views on people being held at Guantanamo Bay?
Nat: The way I kind of see it is that there is a lot of stuff going on in this world that we just don’t know about. I mean real fucked up shit in countries that we just don’t know about, and Guantanamo Bay is an extension of that.
Kwaku: Are you for or against Capital Punishment and do you think it should be reinstated?
Nat: Capital Punishment, absolutely not, no fucking way. Why? Because the courts are fallible and people were dying that had absolutely nothing to do with the crimes. No, It is just obvious, NO.
Kwaku: Now that your name has been carved in UK Hip Hop history as a pioneering female within the fabric of the industry, what advice would you have for anyone wanting to follow in your footsteps?
Nat: Thanks for the compliment. You just have to be you, that is the best advice I could really give to anyone. You just have to get involved; it’s all about participation. If you’re not going to be an artist, i.e. rapper, break dancer, beat boxer, graffiti artist or DJ, then find something else, be of use, try and make changes. Don’t bullshit, don’t lick ass, don’t act like a chief (laugh), just represent yourself in a respectable manner is what I’ve learnt. Big up to all the girls that are involved and nuff respect goes out to them.